The low down on bullying
How would you cope if your child was the victim of bullying? Would you march straight down to the school and demand action, or would you encourage your child to fight back? Here are the facts that every parent should know:
What is the difference between bullying and teasing?
Bullying is being mean to another child over and over again. Bullying often includes:
• Spreading rumours
• Talking about threatening to hurt someone
• Purposely leaving kids out and encouraging others to avoid them
• Physically and verbally attacking someone
• Online bullying can take place through text messages or email, and posting rumours, photos or face profiles on Facebook and other websites
“Teasing is usually meant to elicit laughs and not psychological harm, while bullying is sustained harassment.”
Is my child at risk?
It is important to remember that bullying can happen to anyone, at any school. Some groups are at an increased risk including lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) youth, children with disabilities, and children who are socially isolated.
Generally, children who are bullied have one or more of the following risk factors:
• Are perceived as different from their peers (overweight or underweight, wearing glasses or different clothing, being new to a school, or considered “uncool”)
• Are perceived as weak or unable to defend themselves
• Are depressed, anxious, or have low self esteem
• Are less popular than others and have few friends
• Do not get along well with others, seen as annoying or provoking, or antagonise others for attention
How can I find out if my child is being bullied?
Many children find bullying difficult to talk about. While not all children who are bullied exhibit warning signs, the following may indicate your child is being bullied:
• Unexplainable injuries
• Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewellery
• Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
• Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating (kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch)
• Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
• Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
• Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
• Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem and self-destructive behaviours such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
My child is being bullied. What should I do?
Parents play a key role in preventing and responding to bullying. When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior, they send the message that it is not acceptable.
• Listen to your child without distractions. Learn what’s been going on and show you want to help
• Reassure them that bullying is not their fault
• Understand that bullying may be hard for your child to talk about. Consider meeting and seeking advice from a school counsellor or other health professional
• Work together to resolve the situation and protect the bullied child. The child, parents, and school or organization may all have valuable input. It may help to:
• Be persistent. Bullying may not end overnight. Commit to making it stop and consistently support the bullied child.
Avoid these mistakes:
• Never tell the child to ignore the bullying
• Do not blame the child for being bullied. Even if he or she provoked the bullying, no one deserves to be bullied
• Do not tell the child to physically fight back against the kid who is bullying. It could get the child hurt, suspended, or expelled
• Parents should resist the urge to contact the other parents involved. It may make matters worse. School or other officials can act as mediators between parents
“If parents are concerned about bullying they should get onto the school immediately. Don’t take no for an answer and put all complaints in writing. All schools have anti-bullying policies in place, and it would be a breach of charter if the policy is not followed.”
Are you concerned about bullying or has your child been bullied? What was your experience? Please share your story in the comment section below.
Information sourced from: www.stopbullying.gov
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